Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah dies - UPDATED

Fadlallah had a wide following beyond Lebanon's Shi'ites, extending to Central Asia and the Gulf.

Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah dies - UPDATED

Lebanon's Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of Shi'ite Islam's highest religious authorities, died on Sunday at the age of 74, his family said.

Fadlallah had a wide following beyond Lebanon's Shi'ites, extending to Central Asia and the Gulf.

He had been too frail to deliver his regular Friday prayers sermon for several weeks, and had been in hospital since Friday suffering from internal bleeding.

Crowds gathered at his Hassanein mosque in southern Beirut to pay condolences, and Hezbollah said it would mark his death with three days of mourning.

Black banners hung outside mosques in Shi'ite areas of southern Lebanon and the eastern Beqaa valley, as well as at Fadlallah's many charitable institutions.

"He was a guide not just for Lebanon but for the whole world and for Muslims," said mourner Abu Muhammed Hamadeh outside the Hassanein mosque. "With his death, he has left a very large void in the Arab and Muslim world".

Hezbollah's al-Manar television interrupted its programmes to broadcast recitations from the Koran and showed a picture of the white-bearded, black-turbanned cleric.

"He stood with great courage and clarity as a supporter of the resistance against the Zionist enemy and of the heroic mujahideen," Hezbollah said in a statement.

A fierce critic of the United States, Fadlallah used many of his Friday prayer sermons to denounce U.S. policies in the Middle East, particularly its siding with Israel.

But he was also quick to denounce the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States which killed some 3,000 people.

Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, said Fadlallah "contributed to the consolidation of the values of right and justice to resist injustice".

"...He represented a voice of moderation and an advocate of unity among the Lebanese in particular and Muslims in general".

In his final sermon, delivered by a deputy on Friday, he condemned Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and criticised the United States for "giving cover to the enemy (Israel)."

A doctor at the Bahman hospital where he was admitted on Friday said he was still conscious on arrival. The doctor said that when a nurse asked the ailing cleric what he needed, he replied: "For the Zionist entity to cease to exist".

Fadlallah survived several assassination attempts, including a 1985 car bomb which killed 80 people in south Beirut. U.S. news reports said the attack was carried out by a U.S.-trained Lebanese unit.

Fadlallah was born in 1935 in the Iraqi Shiite holy city of Najaf, where his parents emigrated from Lebanon to study Islam.

He returned to Lebanon in 1966 and founded the Islamic Sharia Institute which has trained a number of prominent Shiite leaders.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Temmuz 2010, 16:35